Surf shop helps customers ‘stay stoked’ | Hawaii Jobs

Surf shop helps customers ‘stay stoked’

There’s much to find at any of T&C Surf Designs’ seven Oahu locations from stickers and trinkets, to clothing and surfboards.

By Elima Pangorang

It’s officially wintertime in the islands and residents know exactly what that means — surf’s up! That’s right, the north and west shores are pumping world-famous waves, ushering in crowds of spectators and ocean enthusiasts from around the globe. Fortunately, T&C Surf Designs stocks gear for beach-goers, hikers, skaters and basically anyone who loves anything to do with the outdoors.

Founded by Craig Sugihara in 1971, T&C Surf was conceptualized from Sugihara’s love of shaping surf-boards. When he opened the first location in Pearl City along Kamehameha Highway, his talent and products skyrocketed to fame since that route was the only roadway to the North Shore at the time.

“The name reflected the shop’s position between the best surf spots — town and country,” explained operations manager Charlene Calistro. “The T&C surf logo, which includes a yin-yang, has strong graphic character and deep meaning to surfing. It symbolizes balance, which is most applicable to surfing, and has also defined the evolution of T&C throughout the years.”

In this iconic T&C Surf photo, founder Craig Sugihara shapes a board.

Since 1971, the business evolved from a small island surfboard manufacturer into a multifaceted international leader in the surf industry, adding retail and international licensing to its operation.

Even with licensing agreements in Australia, Brazil, Japan and New Zealand, T&C Surf remains 100-percent locally owned, churning out products rooted in Hawaiian culture.

In addition to helping the local economy and culture, T&C Surf provides a multitude of opportunities to the people it hires, creating a welcoming environment fit for the part-time student worker, to a full-time member looking to move up in the retail industry.

“At the store level, training begins on day one. Each hired individual is taught the company’s customer service expectations alongside their job description,” said Calistro. “In addition, we teach them basic product knowledge (i.e., surfboards, bodyboards, skateboards). Education and experience are not necessary for entry level positions but are preferred for management roles.”

From sales associates to managers, the company offers plenty of learning and growth opportunities.

For employees seeking to grow in management, a manager trainee program where participants will learn how to become the “next” assistant or store managers is offered, according to Calistro.

Forming the foundation of T&C Surf’s company values are positivity and stoke — both shared among staff and customers alike. These optimistic aspects trickle into the workplace, promoting a sense of family that fosters good ethics and hard work.

“The work environment is fast paced but also fun. At the store level, staff may experience healthy competition between stores for a company-wide incentive or may compete for individual incentives,” Calistro shared. “The ohana feeling even extends to the main office. As a company, everyone supports each other while supporting the company.”

Tie it all together and it is apparent that positivity, team players and contributors are all vital to the daily and overall success of T&C Surf.

“Characteristics like high energy, openness and the ability to elaborate are all things we look for in potential candidates,” concluded Calistro. “They don’t have to surf, skate or bodyboard. If they love life it shows in their personality.”

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The 411

COMPANY: T&C Surf Designs

LOCATION(S): Seven locations across Oahu, one in every major mall: Ala Moana Shopping Center, Pearlridge Center, Kahala Mall, Windward Mall, Ward Centre, Ka Makana Alii, Haleiwa Store Lots

PHONE: 483-8383


FOUNDER: Craig Sugihara

EMPLOYEES: Approximately 150 (more than 200 during holiday season)

BENEFITS: All staff receives a generous employee discount, among other perks. Qualifying individuals are offered medical and dental coverage, paid time off, 401(k) and Afl ac supplemental insurance.

NOTEWORTHY: The company proudly hosts its own surf contest for the keiki of Hawaii called the T&C Surf Grom Contest. It’s held annually in Waikiki for kids 12 years old and younger. T&C Surf also serves as a supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii and Surfrider Foundation. Additionally, a canned food drive is held at its annual company Christmas party to support the Hawaii Food Bank.